As an English student, many of my preconceptions of Florence stemmed from the novel ‘A Room with a View’. Unfortunately the real experience of the city was without the beautiful period costumes (although wandering through churches in near forty degree heat made me somewhat thankful for that!) Looking back over the few days we spent studying art history in Firenze, I decided that the best way to make a record of it was through a sort of Bucket List – my own personal account of the best things I did here.
1) Food. I am a self-proclaimed foodie and one might think that pasta gets boring, but this is far from so. The tutors knew the best places to take us and point out to us for our free time. My favourite night was when we went to the ‘Quattro Leoni’ where friendly waiters gave us prosecco and an adventurous lot of us got exactly the same meal – a delicious plate of pear, cheese and asparagus tortellini.
2)Watching the sunset over the Arno. Coming straight from Venice we felt withdrawal symptoms from the water, so one evening we desperately sought out the one river in Florence. The picturesque scene of the sun setting over the city was accompanied with daiquiris and an assortment of authentic Italian antipasti (food does seem to be a recurring trend of this piece thus far, but the amount of walking we do entirely justifies it I like to think.)
3) Climbing the bell tower. This was an interesting one for me as I am by no means the biggest fan of heights! However, the slight nausea, overexhaustion and screaming pain in my thighs was most definitely worth it. The views at the top were breathtaking, as you could see the entire plan of Florence mapped out in front of you and the landscape stretched out to the rolling green hills in the distance.
4) The art. It might seem somewhat odd to have this as one of the last items on this Florentine bucket list seeming as we are on an art history course, but that is because it is undoubtedly the most exciting and important thing that will feature in your trip to Florence. It is impossible to discuss all the amazing works of art that we were lucky to see as our five days have been jam-packed with all kinds of churches, galleries and frescoes. The tutors were evidently excited about the works that we saw, and this interest was infectious. I will only pick out one of my favourite pieces, but it is only a miniscule representative of the wealth of art that is on offer in Florence. I was particularly moved at Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’ in the Uffizi, an expansive art gallery full of famous pieces. I was familiar with ‘Primavera’ so was excited to see it, but nothing can prepare you for the scale and pure beauty of the real deal.
5) My own art, which is not as vain as it initially seems. Although many people who come on the course are adept at drawing and painting, I am by no means one of these people and prefer the critique of art over my abysmal attempts at stick people. However, on the last day we spent in Florence we went to the Bargello gallery which is housed in what used to be a stately home and then a prison before its current use. We were assigned a piece to examine and draw, and I spent a delightful half an hour looking at Michelangelo’s ‘Bacchus’. Whilst it cannot be classed as a masterpiece, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to really deconstruct and analyse the sculpture and understand it on a deeper level.